Thompson takes heat for Favre retirement   « Back

by Mike Vandermause
Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette

July 5, 2008

Brett Favre’s desire to return to the NFL has produced a new round of criticism directed at Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson.

The latest heat is coming from Favre family members and friends, who are suggesting the quarterback’s retirement in March was not only welcomed, but encouraged.

“He has felt like that for the last couple of years, that the Packers didn’t really want him back,” his mother, Bonita Favre, told Milwaukee TV station WITI after it was reported Wednesday that Favre was getting the itch to play again. “But nothing has been said. You know it has just been bits and pieces throughout the last couple of years, things that would come up, and it just didn’t seem like they went out of their way to keep him. It was kind of like, ‘You’re done.’”

Biloxi Sun Herald reporter Al Jones, a self-described friend of Favre’s, added fuel to the fire in an interview on Milwaukee’s WTMJ radio when he said Favre was forced into retirement by Thompson.

“It all comes down to Ted Thompson,” Jones said. “The main thing is the man has shown no respect to perhaps the greatest quarterback in their franchise history. Brett’s a little disappointed. He feels like he can still play. He knows he can still play.”

Jones added that Favre has been working out, throwing passes every morning and doesn’t want to play for any team other than the Packers.

“When it’s all said and done, Ted Thompson is the man to blame on all this,” Jones said.

Thompson has been unavailable for comment since the latest Favre news broke. But in an interview before he left on vacation, I asked Thompson to respond to the perception the Packers organization didn’t do enough to talk Favre out of retiring.

“I never understood that, quite frankly,” Thompson said. “We went about this offseason the way we have the last several, making sure Brett knew that Mike (McCarthy) and I both felt he’s still a good player, can still play the game, can still win and that our team was going to be in a position to win. I think that’s what a veteran looks for: Do we have a chance to win? And can I still play?

“Other than that, it’s not my place to try to convince someone that they’re making a bad decision or a good decision. It’s my place to say, these are the facts as I see them, now it’s up to you and Deanna to make your choice.”

That suggests Thompson would have welcomed Favre back. Thus, it’s puzzling that Bonita Favre and Jones are so critical of the Packers’ general manager.

Was Thompson supposed to get down on his knees in March and beg Brett to return? That would be a ridiculous expectation.

Since when does a superstar quarterback need to be coddled? If Brett wanted to play but perceived he wasn’t wanted, he should have drawn on his competitive nature to prove Thompson and the organization wrong.

It should be noted Favre went out of his way at his retirement press conference on March 6 to thank Thompson and absolve the Packers organization of playing a role in his departure.

“I know there’s been comments and issues in the press lately about why I’m leaving,” Favre said at the time, “whether or not the Packers did enough, whether or not Ted and Mike tried to convince me to stay. None of those things have anything to do with me retiring, and that’s from the heart.”

Jones admitted in his recent WTMJ interview that McCarthy tried to talk Favre into playing in March. So, if Favre had the full support of his coach, how can anyone make a credible claim that the organization forced the quarterback into retirement?

The landscape has changed over the past four months. After the Packers spent the offseason setting up their offense to highlight new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ strengths, it appears neither Thompson nor McCarthy is eager to see Favre return.

While we wait to see how this saga plays out, it’s clear those closest to Favre are making Thompson out to be the fall guy. Whether Favre shares those sentiments remains to be seen.
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